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~ 4th of July Yankee Doodle Dandy Macaroni Salad ~

PICT0285"Yankee Doodle went to town, riding on a pony, stuck a feather in his hat, and, called it macaroni."  If you've ever wondered why Yankee Doodle would name his feather macaroni, this post will give you "the scoop".  Sans the folk who think Kraft Foods invented macaroni, food historians agree it had its humble beginning in the kitchen of Thomas Jefferson, who returned from a trip to Paris with a macaroni maker/press which he bought in Italy.  Thank-you Mr. Jefferson for introducing macaroni to America, more importantly, macaroni and cheese!

PICT0242 So -- why did Yankee Doodle Dandy stick a feather in his hat and call it macaroni?  Was he some sort of a nut?  In the time period, this British pre-revolutionary war song was nothing more than the British making full-blown fun of American colonists, who they deemed to be poor, backward, lowly, uneducated, "country bumpkins" or "hicks". The British slang for idiot was "doodle", hence the name Yankee Doodle (or Yankee Idiot).  It was nasty.

Back in the 1700's, both European men and women prided themselves in making a fashion statement whenever they were in public, and, a man who was a fashion leader was called "dandy".  So, was Yankee Doodle actually a dandy?  Not by the British standards.  In the song they have the poor idiot, Yankee Doodle, riding into town on a pony, not even a proper horse, and, sticking a feather in his three-cornered tricorne or coonskin hat in the hopes of making a respectable fashion statement equivalent to that of a stylish man of Europe.  

 Macaroni But why would he call a feather macaroni?  Well, he didn't -- remember the British wrote this song and back then "macaroni" was another derogatory term used to describe men who dressed in outrageously excessive clothes, which included tall, heavy, white wigs laden with hundreds of small, tight curls.  In extreme cases, the wigs were built upon and around heavy wire forms.  These extreme wigs were worn intentionally by men who were in the business of bringing macaroni from Italy to Britain and France, and, they proudly referred to themselves as "macaronis"!  

What does this mean for us foodies? Well, whether macaroni was named after the wigs, or the wigs were named after the curly little Italian pasta remains a "chicken or the egg" mystery, but for me: every year on the 4th of July I find myself proudly humming this tune and preparing macaroni salad in honor of it.

PICT0152 A bit about macaroni:  Macaroni is a small shaped semolina and water pasta and does not contain eggs. While most macaronis are tube-shaped, the most famous being elbow macaroni, there are other forms including shells, twists and spirals.  My favorite for making macaroni salad is mafalda and it resembles miniature ruffled-edged lasagna.  I like this shape because it is very fork-friendly.

For my recipe, you will need:

3  12-ounce boxs mafalda, or, 2 16-ounce boxes elbow macaroni

PICT0161 ~ Step 1.  In an 8-quart stockpot, bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil.  Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the macaroni, briefly stir and cook until al dente.  Do not overcook. Drain into a large colander and rinse under cold water until pasta is cooled to below room temperature. Allow pasta to continue to drain and "dry", about 45 minutes.  Using a large rubber spatula, gently toss occasionally during this "drying" process.  Note:  Rinsing off the starch and drying the pasta keeps macaroni salad from getting pasty.

PICT0166 For the sauce ingredients:

6  cups mayonnaise

6  tablespoons sweet pickle relish

1  teaspoon celery seed

2  tablespoons each: dry English mustard, cayenne pepper sauce and sugar

1  teaspoon each:  salt and white pepper


For the fresh ingredients:

2  generous cups diced red onion

2  generous cups diced celery

1  generous cup peeled and diced carrots

1  generous cup diced green bell pepper

1  generous cup diced red bell pepper

8  jumbo eggs, hard-cooked and coarsely chopped (optional)

~ Step 2.  While the macaroni is draining and "drying", hard-cook the optional eggs in the same 8-quart stockpot.  For instructions on how to cook perfect eggs without those tell-tale green rings that denote overcooking, you can read my recipe for ~ A Little Thing Called:  Boiling Eggs ~ in Category 15.  Prep all of the fresh vegetables as directed and pictured above.

PICT0167~ Step 3.  In a very large mixing bowl, measure and place all of the sauce ingredients as listed.  Using a large rubber spatula thoroughly mix until mixture is uniform in color.







~ Step 4.  Using the same spatula fold all of the fresh vegetables into the sauce mixture.  Don't fold the optional hard-cooked eggs in yet.

PICT0185 ~ Step 5. Add and fold macaroni into veggie mixture. Fold in eggs, cover and refrigerate 6-8 hours or overnight and up to several days (3-4-5) in advance of serving.

Hats off to Yankee Doodle!

Stick a fork in it and enjoy this joyous American holiday!

PICT02424th of July Yankee Doodle Dandy Macaroni Salad:  Recipe yields:  20-24 cups

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 8-quart stockpot; large colander; large rubber spatula; plastic wrap

PICT0294Cook's Note:  This recipe has been written so you can easily make half as much.  That said, when I'm making it, it's usually for a big gathering, so I published the large quantity version -- enjoy!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)


Oh Teresa! You made my day. I'm so thrilled that you gave my recipe the "blue ribbon seal of foodie approval"!!! ~ Mel.

Mel, we just love all the vegetables, the crunch, and the CREAMINESS!

Mel, do you have a printer option?

Teresa! Over the past few days, Typepad changed the look of the 'pin it' button and all of a sudden I am getting several pins a day. Something tells me the problem was a their end! I'm so happy it is working for you (and me)!!! ~ Mel.

Hey! I finally got something to pin right!

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